England v Australia: The Ashes 2013 - Preview
Jul 08 2013 - 13:51:55
Trent Bridge in Nottingham will host the first test of this year’s Ashes series.
England’s hardened line-up are the favourites going in to the five-match test series against a young-looking Australian outfit.
While Australian preparations have been rocked by issues on and off the pitch, Alastair Cook's England have comfortably gone about their business, beating New Zealand 2-0 in a warm-up series, and on Saturday they named a familiar 13-man squad.
"This bunch of cricketers have fought a lot of campaigns and won a lot together," England coach Andy Flower said.
"We were pretty clear what our squad would be and what our XI will be," added Flower.
Kevin Pietersen has been recalled after missing the New Zealand series due to injury and his presence gives Cook another major weapon in his first Ashes series as captain.
"Pietersen's got that X-factor. He hasn't played much cricket but he's like Shane Warne - he loves the big moments and Ashes series," former Australia batsman Damien Martyn said.Key Players
Watson will be a key player for Australia and will open the batting with the 35-year-old Chris Rogers, who has only played one test match in his career.
The form of captain Michael Clarke will be extremely vital, as the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey have left the Aussies very short of experience in the middle order.
Australia’s pace attack will be lead by Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc, with the possibility of support from off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
As for England, they’ve won three of the last four Ashes series including a 3-1 victory in Australia in 2010-11, but Martyn believes the appointment of Darren Lehmann as coach gives the touring side a better chance of reclaiming the urn.
The status of Anderson, Pietersen and captain Alastair Cook is already secure but it's time for youngsters like batsmen Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and paceman Steven Finn to make their name.
If the series is anything like those in England in 2005 and '09, fans are in for a thriller.